The performance from Genie Bouchard, no doubt, has been by far one of the best from her this 2017. But Bouchard hadn't been almost as bold as her words when she had faced the Russian in the past.
There's a famous photo in tennis circles from 15 years ago of an 8-year-old Bouchard posing with a much taller 15-year-old Sharapova at a tennis camp in Key Biscayne, Fla.
Worse, there was nothing in the Canadian's recent play that suggested that a breakthrough was in the cards. Pliskova, ranked No. 3 in the world, was hoping to rise to No. 1 this week.
Sharapova, a five-time grand slam victor, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, which was then reduced to 15 months and, in October, the court of arbitration for sport said she was not an "intentional doper".
Sharapova said she didn't need extra motivation to play against anybody. In a case of déjà-vu, both players would hold until the sixth game where the former champion was finally able to make the breakthrough, earning a commanding 4-2 lead.
Many players are unhappy that she has been allowed back. They met on the court three times prior to Monday, with Sharapova holding a 3-0 record in their matches.
Sharapova's next match was against Bouchard, who was most critical about the Russian's comeback.
In the decider set, Sharapova survived five break points in the fifth game.
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Torino took a shock lead when Ljajic floated a ideal free kick over the wall and in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Norberto Neto stranded.
Number eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova also moved into the third round after fighting back from a set down against American Alison Riske 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
If Sharapova wasn't angered enough by being dragged through the mud, losing just her second set in 10 against Bouchard did the trick. At 2-2, she double faulted twice and was broken.
For Bouchard, this represents her biggest win and best run at a tournament since reaching the semi-finals in Sydney in January, while Sharapova still has work to do secure a place in Wimbledon qualifying. Every match at this point is important. Again, Bouchard, playing excellent defense, earned a chance to serve it out at 5-4. The Canadian deflected the ball with her racket and lost the point.
Stuart Fraser of The Times notes that she "refused to confirm afterwards whether she had found an alternative for meldonium, the prohibited substance she tested positive for last year".
Bouchard will now face top-seeded Angelique Kerber, who defeated Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 on Monday, in Tuesday's Round-of-16 matchup. I wanted to do it for myself, but also for all of these people. If everything affects you on and off the court, I think that would be a really challenging position to be in.
Sharapova didn't fire back, but instead said everything she needed to while saying nothing at all. In the end, the rust showed: Sharapova's game was there for stretches, and then it was gone, completely, for longer stretches. She had a total of 19 break opportunities, converting seven of them.
Is this a turnaround win for Bouchard?
Either way, this is the match that mattered most for Bouchard. Afterwards, the two players shook hands at the net but did not exchange any words. Cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms.